President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr’s transition began in earnest on Tuesday, after President Trump authorised intelligence agencies to begin briefing his successor on classified information delivered in the President’s Daily Brief, and transition teams started communicating with their counterparts in agencies throughout the federal government.
Biden also formally announced top members of his national security team on Tuesday in Wilmington, Delaware.
“Our teams can prepare to meet the challenges at hand,” he said. “To control the pandemic, to build back better, and to protect the safety and security of the American people.”
Biden’s nominees seemed intent on fully repudiating the current administration’s “America First” isolationism.
“Diplomacy is back,” said Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat and Biden’s pick for US ambassador to the United Nations.
Antony J. Blinken, the nominee for secretary of state, said America needed the “humility and confidence” to depend on its allies.
The President-elect also formally introduced Alejandro N. Mayorkas, a Cuban-American, as his pick to run the Department of Homeland Security, and Avril D. Haines, who would be the first woman to be the director of national intelligence. In her remarks, Haines warned Biden that she would bring him news that would be politically “inconvenient or difficult”, a contrast with the outgoing administration.
Biden also appointed John Kerry, who was previously President Obama’s secretary of state, to a new role inside the National Security Council to put “climate change on the agenda in the Situation Room”, after four years of the Trump administration trying to have the words struck from international agreements.
A major player who has yet to be named is Biden’s secretary of defence, though the leading candidate is believed to be Michèle Flournoy, who served as the under secretary of defence for policy under Obama and, in the Trump years, created a foreign policy advisory firm with Blinken, WestExec Advisors.
While Trump ended his blockade of the start of a formal transition process, he continued to refuse to concede defeat, even as states — including the battleground of Pennsylvania — certified their election results.
Transition officials said their teams had made contact with every federal agency to begin setting up meetings. About 20 of those meetings took place on Tuesday, including at the department of homeland security and the education department. The officials said the reception from the Trump administration was responsive and helpful.
Xi message for Biden
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday congratulated Biden, voicing hope the two countries could promote a healthy and stable development of bilateral ties, the Xinhua news agency reported.
In his congratulatory message, Xi said healthy ties between the world’s two biggest economies were not only in the fundamental interests of their two peoples but also expected by the international community, Xinhua said.